The Charlotte News

Sunday, January 9, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Liquor, germs, the 1936 Democratic platform versus policy, the anti-lynching bill's relative merits, a retiring judge, and postage losses on newspaper delivery by mail--these are the varied topics of the column today, only a couple of which, we fathom, were definitely by Cash.

"Thank You, Senator", while on a regular Cash topic, race and anti-lynching bills, is likely not his. The laissez-faire approach to race relations, a states' rights tone in fact, as advocated in the piece, are uncharacteristic of Cash's views on the subject, though, because of their tendency to trigger the violence they sought to stop, he was clearly not an advocate of anti-lynching bills as a solution to the lynching problem. Moreover the application of the adjective "ruthless" to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments,--the Fourteenth affording equal protection of the laws to all citizens and applying the protections of the Bill of Rights, previously argued as applicable only to restrict the Federal government, to the states as well, and the Fifteenth providing the right to vote to all citizens--, except in an ironic sense which this particular context does not appear to suggest, would be incongruous with Cash's position enunciated through time. Thus, unless it was a somewhat recondite psychological ploy with the atavistic reader, we conclude that it was probably not his work. To confirm it, try to square this piece with "Bad--But Better" of only a few days earlier, December 28, 1937. It can't be done, not easily anyway. And, clearly, for its style and reference to the "barbarians of history", the earlier piece is by Cash.

Regardless, "Thank You, Senator" poses the classic argument on the South: to be left alone to resolve its own problems, whether economic and educational or their inextricably intertwined issue of racial apartheid, the hue and cry of the Wallaces, Faubuses, Barnetts, and Thurmonds of the 1950's and 1960's, meaning in practical application, in their terms anyway, "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever"; or intervention by the Federal government to force integration, to force recognition of human equality, the latter having been plainly and finally necessary to get the back-peddling, antebellum dwelling idiots straightened out.

Some of the idiots still don't get it. Still think the cry ought be: "The South shall rise again!" Some of them still need straightening out by a more thorough-going education. And, as we have stressed before, not confined only to the South geographically, as the "Southern mind" of which we speak has no strict geographical boundary line, nationally or even internationally. Indeed, the country has largely vacillated back toward a sleepy, segregated state, just thinking itself having made substantial progress by the tokenism being practiced regularly abroad the land these days. Something wont to happen as the emotional dedication, the hand-wrenching tears of the sting of personal loss motivating action to cause, yet without enough rationale behind it, decelerates any societal movement with time, especially one beset by problems of external societal pressure bringing about inevitable internal dissolution.

These issues may not make the press as easily these days, but they still co-exist in daily life in the country. Ghetto blight and its consequent demands on the human psyche of those living within it still co-exist with middle class finery in the land, even if, slowly, some progress is being made to relieve the strict racial barriers of segregated living, the first indicator of true integration of society.

The press, meanwhile, having been there, done that, or so appears the self-satisfied perception, is much more fond these days of covering such meaty subjects as the latest murder mystery in some small burg of which few have any personal or sociological stake, or a car chase down a freeway involving some kid out on a joyride in a Cadillac or a tank or what-not, than to bother in covering such controversial and sticky issues as race relations in the country--unless of course some juicy case is in play, such as the Duke lacrosse players in Durham year before last.

"Oh, it's so 1960-ish, like, dude, out of fashion to do those socially relevant things, and so complicated. You have to have experts and people qualified to interview the experts, and sooooo much preparation. Let's do the car-chase thing--simple, won't offend anyone. Race and educational inadequacy are covered anyway by the sports channels, aren't they?"

As to the daily grind of ordinary life in the United States, rarely is there any honest coverage anymore by the press, print or television, whether regarding race or just the daily stresses of life in general on all work-a-day citizens, caste in the United States as practiced increasingly by an increasingly intolerant moneyed class of arrogant idiots bred on the Ronald Reagan topsy-turvy revolt of the latter 1970's into the 1980's, when these idiots of whom we speak more or less took over society, the unlettered, unschooled stupes who contribute to get the pols who support their limited world view elected to cram the resulting pablum down the throats of the rest of us, totalitarian style, bottom-line being everything, whether we like it or not, those who supplant acting skills for expertise on any given topic, whose only applied study in school was on how to get rich quick or how to win friends and influence people (with money or promise of same)--people of like stripe that is, failure of which means they aren't of like stripe and must be instantly branded something unsavory and eliminated to make it all work. Unless of course there is a juicy crime story which came out of the stresses thus created on one of the eliminatees, or susceptible at least of being so branded, someone chopping up their neighbor or spouse into little pieces and stuffing them in a barrel, or some supposedly top-grade student or employee suddenly gone berserk and shooting up the place.

"Oh, dude, we leave that other sociological stuff to Michael Moore. And even the local video stores refuse to carry his movies. See? They don't want that. We'll lose our sponsors. Be practical. Got to be competitive with collective ADD. We deal in action. Action now, action tomorrow, action forever. Why did Cho do that thing? Simple. He was mentally ill. Done. Move on. Got to change the pace every two minutes or we, that is, they, go to sleep, flip the channel to one of those survivor programs. And, besides they, those survivor programs we mean, cover that inner conflicted world stuff adequately, don't they? We deal in straight action, drama, quick stuff. Better to keep the viewer's mind on something than dead air to all but 10%, isn't it? Isn't it? What good is there in catering only to the elite? Well, got to run. There's a good car chase coming up on the wires out of Nebraska. Ciao."

The rest of the page is here. Letter writer Clarence Poe, mentioned in the latter pages of The Mind of the South, was the editor of The Progressive Farmer and well-known farm advocate of his day. He favored greater education for rural dwellers, farm cooperatives, self-ownership of farmland, and independence from large urban influence. By the 1950's, however, he was convinced that the family farm was a thing of the past, giving way to agribusiness. And, of course, he was right.

Sounds Familiar*

Down in Atlanta, the Georgia Legislature is in session. Last week, the House continued scrapping over a bill to legalize the sale of liquor in six of the state's largest counties.

At one point in these deliberations arose Representative Zeliner of Monroe, a tiny county wholly rural in nature and interests, to take up the cudgels for the drys. Quoth he:

"Why shouldn't we continue to drink Georgia corn liquor in preference to imported booze made by the Yankees? I believe in patronizing home industries, and the bootlegger seems to be one of the most industrial enterprises."

Now this takes us back to the liquor election in Mecklenburg last Spring! The same old argument about patronizing home industries, the same old determination on the part of the country people to save their city cousins from sin and fancy living. And, probably, in the end, the same old compromise on plenty of liquor and Prohibition too.

Cute Little Rascals, Aren't They?

An explanation of the puzzle of viruses as being invisible parasites forming a world of their own below the level of germs, has been offered at Cornell University by Dr. Richard K. Shope of Rockefeller Institute.

It reminds us of the doggerel about the fleas that had little fleas to bite 'em, and so on ad infinitum, but on the whole, the germs seem to have much the best of it in their war against the human race. It may be that we are conquering them through various discoveries of science, but no sooner do we win on one frontier than new worlds of viruses we never suspected debouch upon us, living happily ever after in our cells. And there's this to say for germs and viruses: they are a community of nations, bound by a common pact and a common purpose, which is, to eat homo sap alive.

This happy determination of the virus inspires us to lyric composition, which we offer tremulously:

* * *

See the virile, vicious virus--
His example should inspire us:

In a subcutaneous community
He attacks us with impunity.

In his ordered world so peaceful,
Bound by common aims deceaseful,

Civil wars or strained polemics
Never hinder epidemics;

Far removed from vexing issues,
Viruses just eat the tissues.

Undeclared war homicidal
Is the watchword germicidal;

Oh, we envy us the plight
Of this vengeful parasite

In his corporative state
As he chews his hymn of hate.

As Advertised

A couple of times recently we have encountered references to the Democratic platform. Not that unused platform of 1932, you understand, but the 1936, mid-New Deal platform. Best we remember, Lister Hill, next Senator from Alabama, was one who referred to it, saying that he would stand by it, and yesterday Representative Dies, Texas Democrat, adverted to it in connection with the wage-and-hour bill.

We had almost forgotten the experience of such a thing as the 1936 Democratic platform, and it was with a feeling, almost, of standing alone in that convention hall at Philadelphia while a loud-speaker blared away stentoriously that we read it again. And we are happy to report that the phrases which this Democratic platform contains are, in both letter and spirit, the agenda of this second Roosevelt Administration, that there has been no such right-about-face from positions taken and no slight jettisoning of promises such as were "solemnly made and pledged to be effectuated" in that 1932 platform.

Foreign policy both diplomatic and commercial, agriculture, housing, the deconcentration of economic power, unemployment relief, labor--on all these issues, the position of the administration today is as it was set forth in that platform adopted in June, 1936. In only one particular can the charge of false pretense be raised, and that is in the specific pledge for "the immediate extension of the merit all non-policy-making positions in the Federal Government." The last reckoning showed that non-civil service jobs were increasing ten times as fast as those under the merit system.

Thank You, Senator*

For Senator Borah's complimentary references to the South's handling of its race relations, our manners. It is perfectly true and exceedingly pertinent to the business in hand, i.e., an anti-lynching bill, that the South has a race problem which long ago ought, by all common experience, to have demoralized one race or the other. Instead, the plain and incontrovertible evidence is of mutual progress side by side. Injustice and discrimination are still to be found, and bad feeling occasionally rears its ugly head. But the trend is neither toward oppression of the Negro race by the white or toward amalgamation. On the contrary, the two races are working out, sometimes painfully and always tediously, separate philosophies of live and help to live.

Lynchings have come to be one of the least troublesome phases of the South's race problem. In fact, the gradual disappearance of lynching is an excellent measurement of the evolution of racial sufferance in the South since Reconstruction. If an anti-lynching law will cause this moribund institution to disappear altogether, well and good. But it will be of no great help to the South, and it is not worth the time the United States Congress is devoting to it, in contrast to the far more extensive sociological problems arising from the propinquity of two antipathetic races. And the South's conviction, instinctive to us all, is that the only way to solve these problems is in time to let them solve themselves. It is in this way alone that we have come as far as we have since the ruthless adoption of Amendments XIV and XV to the Federal Constitution.

A Judge Steps Down*

Judge William F. Harding, after 41 years at the bar and 24 years on the Superior Court bench, announces his decision today, at the age of 70, not to offer for reelection this Spring but to take his place on the less strenuous emergency bench. The statement will bring both pleasure and regret.

Pleasure, because Judge Harding is a delightful gentleman, and the new arrangement will give him more time and his friends in Mecklenburg more opportunity for mutual cultivation. It will be additionally pleasing that his less rigorous routine will help to preserve his health and add to his years of vigor.

Regret, that his decision takes from the regular courts the dean of the western circuit who has distinguished himself for nearly a generation for ability and integrity. He has neither dabbled in politics nor catered to the desires of special influences, but has made himself known as a judge who was controlled by the law rather than by expediency. He still will be available, of course, for court work for many years to come, but between terms and more or less as he pleases he can take his ease and enjoy the mellow years of his life at home and among his friends. It is to be regretted that the regular bench loses such a man as Judge Harding, but the change has its compensations.

Small Potatoes*

There was a time when the President's remarks at his press conference about second-class postal rates might have produced consternation in the business office downstairs. Jim Farley's annual report, showing among other things that it cost the Post Office Department $38,000,000 to carry newspapers, of which it got back only $9,000,000 in postage, brought the discussion up; and the President was quick to say that he believed the time had long since passed when the subsidy was justified. He suggested that the press take the initiative.

Speaking for ourselves, we aren't going to do anything about it. Rates are rates, and the Government fixes them. If we paid what we thought we ought to pay, we'd get a two-cent rather than a three-cent stamp on a letter. But beyond that, "downstairs" tells us that the number of papers distributed by mail is small indeed. The inadequacy of the postal service, the discontinuance of many trains, the deliberateness of delivery, the building of good roads--all these have led, over a period of years, away from the post office to direct-to-subscriber distribution. And nowadays, subscribers demand it. They want their news while it is hot.

To be sure, mail service for newspapers still costs the Government $38,000,000 annually (by a moot method of bookkeeping) and brings it in only $9,000,000. But as rates went up, be sure that even this vestige of a once considerable patronage would find other methods of circulation.

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